We give gifts because we want to bless someone. We're excited to see how they will respond to and use a gift we think they will enjoy. Sometimes we can be just as excited about giving someone a gift (and how they will react to it) as we are about receiving gifts of our own.
And that got me thinking about our spiritual gifts. God chose to bless each of us with spiritual gifts based on how we were uniquely made and crafted. I imagine God gets excited about blessing us with our spiritual gifts and seeing us use them, and He gets disappointed when He sees we're not using them.
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First of all, we know that every single one of us is made unique.
"For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:13-14
Not only are we individually handcrafted, but every single Christian is blessed with several spiritual gifts from God for the purposes of ministry and to be used within the body of Christ. Every believer receives these gifts when they accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior. At salvation, not only are you gifted with the gift of salvation and grace, but also with spiritual gifts. We will always have the same two or three spiritual gifts our entire Christian lifetime. They can be nurtured and grown as we use them in ministry, but they will not come and go.
"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve, if it is teaching, let him teach, if it is encouraging, let him encourage, if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously, if it is leadership, let him govern diligently, if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully." Romans 12:4-8
From this we learn several things:
If you want to know more about spiritual gifts, I recommend you check out the following books:
You may already have an idea of what spiritual gifts you have been given. You gravitate toward different roles in church or in your occupation based on how you are gifted, how you are uniquely wired by God.
For example, my spiritual gifts are teaching and exhortation (encouragement). I am a teacher by profession (I teach middle school English) and love to write and blog the truths I am learning to teach and encourage others in their faith. It is how I have been individually wired to build up the body of Christ.
You may not know your spiritual gifts and that's ok, there are lots of online quizzes and questionnaires that can help you. My favorite resource is this spiritual gifts online survey. It only takes a few minutes to answer the questions and find out your spiritual gifts.
Not only are we gifted with spiritual gifts, but we are commanded to use them.
"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:10
Use them in your church. We are to use our spiritual gifts within the body of Christ, which means that you should be using your spiritual gifts within your own church. If you are not serving in your church, there are several areas you could be serving, and if you don't know what they are, please talk to one of your pastors about your spiritual giftings and how you would like to use them in the church and they will help you get plugged in.
Use them everywhere. Our spiritual gifts aren't just meant for our church body. Nope, they are meant to build up every single person we meet, for no matter where we go, we are ministers. You can use your spiritual gifts in your home, at your workplace, in your neighborhood, and in the grocery store. Pray for guidance as to how to use your gifts wherever you go, and I guarantee you'll be given opportunities to do so. :)
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul gives a long list of the types of spiritual gifts we can receive and the reason for them. He then begins to talk about the body of Christ. How we are all an integral part of the body, and we cannot wish we were another part of the body or say that we don't need a particular part of the body. He says we are all one body and we all have gifts and we all need each other. I love that in the same chapter Paul talks about being members of the body of Christ AND about each member using their spiritual gifts, because they are indeed connected.
Be content with your own spiritual gifts and don't give in to 'gift projection'. Just because you have the gift of hospitality and love inviting people over to your home where you cook a fantastic meal for everyone doesn't mean that others will too. Your friends may love you and care for you but they may not have the gift of hospitality at all and not think to return the favor of inviting you to their house for dinner. But they will love and serve you with whatever gifts they have been given.
Don't feel like your own gift is superior to others and look down on those with other gifts. That pride will cause you to pull away from others, rather than draw near in community. We all need each other and are uniquely gifted to support one another.
Or, don't feel that someone else's gift is superior to yours and feel afraid of using your own gifting. Feeling intimidated or less than others will also cause you to pull away, rather than draw near in community. God gave us each our gifts for a purpose and for the benefit of others. Don't hide your gift. Use it, for the glory of God.
What are your top two or three spiritual gifts? How are you using them, or want to use them? Please share with us in the comment section below!